Question: Acharya Ji, before marriage, every relationship that I had has been very natural. I never did anything to be good with them. But once I got married, it is not coming that natural.
Where there is desire, there is conflict.
Even the relationship with the family members before marriage is not really natural. It is just that you know that there is not much to be desired there. If you have desires even with your parents, then there would be conflicts even with the parents.
It is not about marriage, it is about desire.
Especially in India, girls know that do not have very high stakes in the parents’ house. Soon they would be out of the ancestral place. So they anyway do not raise there desires very high with respect to parents, and the parental place. They know that they are anyway going to go away. So the expectations are not very high. And because the expectations are not very high, so the relationship remains smooth.
Parents keep saying, “Girls are better than boys, you know,” and girls keep remembering that parents’ place was much better than the in-laws’ place. A lot of that was much because both the parents and the daughter know that the relationship is short-lived. Soon she would be away. If the girl were to stay with the parents the entire life, then there would be conflict even with the parents.
It is not about a time-period pre-marriage and post-marriage.
It is about the human mind.
And it is about the basic principle that – expectations lead to disharmony and clashes.
Once you are with the husband, you want the Sky. You never tell your brother to fetch the moon for you. Do you? But on the first night of your marriage, you ask your hubby, “Where is the moon?” And the little fellow…..He promises the moon. He is not honest enough to admit.
If you want the moon from your father, you would find quarrels. It’s just that the society, and the movies, and biology, have conditioned you to demand the moon only from your conjugal partner.
Try this – Start having expectations from any of your near friends, and see how quickly the relationship nosedives. And when it comes to your Mr. Perfect, you are supposed to have expectations. So you are supposed to break your head against his.
“I have had a very ordinary life, but marriage would bring bliss to me” – that’s what both the man and the woman think. And so they get the bliss. Bliss. Such a hissing sound you know…….
Questioner: Acharya Ji, if the girl is not having any expectations from her in-laws, but they have expectations from the girl or the boy, and it is making her feel confined, and makes her very defensive. What is to be done in such case?
AP: You have not entered into a relationship with your in-laws, neither have you entered into a relationship with your husband. You, your husband, your parents, your in-laws, all have entered into a relationship with an institution.
Please understand this.
Your in-laws are not directly connected to you. They are connected to you, via the institution. They do not know you as a person, they know you as a daughter-in-law. The institution is mediating the relationship. Therefore, do not blame the persons.
Why are you relating to those persons via the institution?
Please understand this.
You did not establish a relationship with your in-laws, you established a relationship with the institution of marriage. An institution of marriage demands expectations. You cannot be married and not have expectations. That would be very unusual.
A man would have very little reason to have great expectations from some young girl. But if the young girl is his daughter-in-law, then he feels authorized to have great expectations. So why did you relate to that old man through that institution of marriage?
If you relate directly to that man, then there would be no conflict. But you relate to him as his daughter-in-law. And fathers-in-law are supposed to have expectations from daughters-in-law. That is what the institution of marriage demands. So now why are you complaining? Why did you enter the institution at all, if you didn’t want to serve obligations? That institutions obliges you to behave in a certain way.
Everybody is playing his or her own role. The father-in-law is performing his role, the mother-in-law is performing her role. You too are performing a certain role. And, you all together agreed to perform those roles. Why did you agree in the first place?
Now the solution.
If you do not want to live by the expectations of the other, free the other of your expectations.
It’s a mutual game – “You live as per my desires, and I will live as per your desires.”
If you do not want to live as per somebody’s expectations, liberate him from your desires.
You cannot keep desiring the property and the status, and security that comes from being with the in-laws, and not pay the price. It is not that you are getting nothing from your in-laws. You get a lot. Don’t you?
Once you permanently shift base to your in-laws base, there is a lot that you start getting. Sometimes this much, sometimes that much, but nobody can say that she gets nothing.
Give up all that you are getting, and then you will have no obligation to serve the expectations of others.
As long as you are getting much from somebody, you will have to give much as well.
Don’t want to give!
See what all you are getting; be very honest about it. Make a list, very objective list – “This is what I am getting from here.” Block what you are getting, and then you will have no more the need to pay up.
There are no free lunches. And nobody pressurizes anybody, if he knows that he does not have the authority to pressurize. If somebody is pressurizing you, it is most likely because he has served you the lunch, and is waiting for the cheque.
Stop enjoying the free meals.
Or, stop complaining when the bill is served.
Questioner: Acharya ji, can I still prolong the question?
AP: Leave it. The first principles cover everything. Go into the response, your solution lies there. There is nothing beyond the first principle.
If you have really understood the fundamental, then it is impossible that your problem won’t be solved. So, instead of expressing the problem in various ways, go to the root of the problem. And the fundamentals will be enough to uproot the problem.
Question 2: Acharya Ji, I also feel that I am not at all happy with my job. I am completely stressed out, and I don’t know what to do. Please guide.
AP: What else is the human story – stuck in the wrong house, and stuck in the wrong job. Now tell me what is left. It’s a clean sweep. Remember what we talked of? There are only two places where we spend our time – home, and work. Wrong home, wrong workplace, and then one is desirous of spiritual salvation.
What salvation can come to you? Half of the time is being spent at home, where there is conflict. The other half, at a workplace, where you should not be at all. And then you want to recite some mantras and do some yoga. What would the mantra and the yoga do?
Begin where there is still some possibility left. You have free time after your job. That’s what a government job gifts you with; a lot of free time. Make use of this free time. That’s where your possibility lies. Start from there.
Where do you live?
Questioner: I live in this city only (Rishikesh). It is the best of the places. Even my household, it is one of the best. I know the conflict is just in my mind. Everyone is good. I am the happiest person when I am with them, and I want to live with them even more. We are on very good terms actually.
AP: You are good, they are good. And together, both of you are making fool of this bad one (referring to himself).
If everything is already good, why turn our time bad by deliberating on all that?
The husband and the wife had a fight. This is not news, I am talking of eternal principles like – “I am Brahmasmi.” It is not a stray incident, it’s a fundamental principle. So the husband and the wife had a fight. And the wife climbed upto the roof-top and started yelling, “Help! Help! The beast is assaulting me.”
So some neighbors came over, and they caught hold of the husband. And now the husband has been arrested by the neighbors. And the wife immediately cools down. And now she is yelling at the neighbors, “Have you no shame interfering in somebody’s private life? You want to destroy my house. That’s what everybody wants.” So the moment a third person says something, the wife is the first one to defend the husband. “Oh, he is very good. Do not touch him.” A while back, the beast was assaulting her.
So that is my humble advice.
Be very cautious while helping a yelling wife, or a yelling husband. They would very quickly make up. And you would be the foul guy.
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More